All Posts By Maria Russo

Maria Russo is an associate editor at Food Network, now living in New York City after being born and raised in the great state of Michigan. She likes her eggs runny, her pasta cheesy and has been known to throw back dozens of oysters at a time.

Just Deal with It — Alton’s After-Show

by in Shows, May 11th, 2014


Cutthroat Kitchen competitors know that when they begin their time in the contest, they’re agreeing to as many as three rounds of unforeseeable problems; chances are high that no matter what dish host Alton Brown asks for, the chefs won’t be able to execute their dream versions of it, be that on account of sabotage, poor planning or simply bad luck. Adapting to challenges is the name of the game on Cutthroat Kitchen, and a contestant’s inability to do that may ultimately do him or her in.

That’s precisely what happened on tonight’s all-new episode when Chef Kristina was gifted a can of spiced ham to use in place of fresh meat in her sloppy joes dish. “I think she wasn’t willing to embrace an ingredient,” Alton told judge Jet Tila on the After-Show. “She saw something that she knew came out of a can, and it was, like, checkout,” he added. Instead of sticking with a traditional approach of ground protein in sloppy joes, Chef Kristina simply sliced the canned product, and Jet wasn’t willing to pardon her for that. “It was slop on a plate,” Jet admitted, and Alton reminded fans, “You’ve got to embrace the ingredient, regardless of its origin.”

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Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by , May 11th, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I’m most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

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Star-a-Day: Kenny Lao

by , May 10th, 2014

Kenny LaoKenny Lao, 36, grew up making Chinese dumplings with his mom, and his passion for that signature dish led to the creation of his fast-casual restaurant business. He wants to take the intimidation out of cooking and share how to make food that is simple but delicious. Read on below to hear from Kenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Kenny: Fast and casual

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Kenny: I love playing games, and I love puzzles, and I love competitions and sorting things out. Not even the takeaway, but just the experience itself is so awesome — just to be into this intense, totally immersive game.

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Star-a-Day: Emma Frisch

by , May 9th, 2014

Emma FrischEmma Frisch, 30, is the girl next door who has traveled the world, and she has family members on five continents. Now residing in upstate New York, Emma is a food blogger and business owner, and she believes anyone can become a good cook. Read on below to hear from Emma, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Emma: My culinary point of view is that anyone can become a more natural and confident cook by learning how to make American comfort food and freshening classic recipes with their own twists. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the best-tasting ingredients at the best prices and freshest ingredients.

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Pamper Mom with Homemade Spa Products, Kitchen Style

by in Holidays, Shows, May 9th, 2014

Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson, Marcela Valladolid and Geoffrey ZakarianMother’s Day is just a few days away, and surely no one deserves a relaxing afternoon at the spa more than Mom. While it may be too late to score her an appointment at your local spa, there’s indeed time to pamper her at home — and with goods you likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

On tomorrow’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts are celebrating moms with brunch, dinner and dessert ideas worthy of the day, plus a few homemade spa products. These easy-to-do concoctions — all created with edible goods like egg yolks, orange juice, sugar and olive oil — will help fortify and repair Mom’s nails and smooth her skin. Check out the simple how-tos below, then tune in to The Kitchen tomorrow at 11a|10c to watch Katie, Sunny and Marcela try out these products on two willing spa subjects: Jeff and Geoffrey.

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Star-a-Day: Donna Sonkin Shaw

by , May 8th, 2014

Donna Sonkin ShawDonna Sonkin Shaw, 42, is dedicated to making health and nutrition taste delicious. She believes eating properly leads to overall health inside and out. She is a certified holistic health coach who works privately with clients, and her twist on healthy comfort food delivers the flavor and satisfaction to keep anyone on track. Read on below to hear from Donna, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Donna: My culinary point of view is healthy comfort food. … I like to say I put the good in the bad and the bad in the good because I feel that people always want real flavor: butter and bacon and chocolate and things like that. There are two of us that come to the table when we come to eat. There’s the part that wants pure pleasure, then the part that knows that what we eat becomes our body. So we’re also eating for our vibrancy and health, so I try to satiate both sides.

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Star-a-Day: Christopher Lynch

by , May 7th, 2014

Christopher LynchChristopher Lynch, 39, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, spent time working with some of the country’s finest restaurateurs and has become a rock star chef in his own right. Christopher carved his own food path with a modern take on the Cajun and Creole cuisine of his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Read on below to hear from Christopher, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Christopher: My culinary point of view is through my 20-plus years of cooking professionally; I’m taking all my experiences and everything I’ve done and putting it through a New Orleans lens, where I’m cooking currently.

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Best 5 Chicken Parmesan Recipes

by in Recipes, May 6th, 2014

Chicken ParmesanEndlessly versatile and guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters, chicken is a family-friendly staple. It’s a blank canvas that absorbs flavor quickly and easily, and it pairs well with myriad ingredients, especially the Italian-inspired tastes of tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella cheese, which, when combined, create classic chicken Parmesan. While you may be used to indulging in this hearty dish at local restaurants, it’s surely possible to replicate it in your own kitchen; the secret lies in the steps. Once your sauce is ready and the chicken golden brown and crispy, finish it with tomatoes and add a layer of cheese for over-the-top decadence. Check out Food Network’s best-five recipes for chicken Parmesan below to find top-rated takes on this timeless dinner from Bobby, Giada, Tyler and more chefs.

5. Chicken Parmesan — This better-for-you recipe uses lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts and whole-wheat breadcrumbs to achieve lighter results, but it maintains a traditional flavor thanks to the addition of tried-and-true marinara sauce and a duo of cheeses.

4. Skillet Chicken Parmesan — Save time — and effort when cleaning up — in the kitchen by preparing both the juicy chicken and garlic-laced tomato sauce in a single pan, then finish them under the broiler to melt the cheesy topping.

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Star-a-Day: Chris Kyler

by , May 6th, 2014

Chris KylerChris Kyler, 32, received culinary training while in the Navy, where he was known for his charisma and slick sense of humor. After working in other’s restaurants, he opened his own catering company, which specializes in fresh and healthy foods. Read on below to hear from Chris, and learn about his style of cooking and his thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Chris: I am looking to see how far I can go. … I believe my whole life is not an accident. This is not an accident. This is not a coincidence where I am today. I have a really compelling story of where I come from. … I’ve been rock bottom, and, like, [with] this opportunity I’m, like, almost back at the top from rock bottom. This, right here, I know if it’s for me, I’m going to win. This is my destiny, so I kind of have that head on my shoulders. I’m just going to give it my all. Everything I have within me — my body, mind and soul— I’m just going to leave it on the stage. And when it’s over, if I don’t win, I know this wasn’t for me but something else is. And if I do win, I know this is where I’m supposed to be.

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Raise a Glass to Cinco de Mayo

by in Drinks, Holidays, May 5th, 2014

Classic MargaritasWhile it may be a Monday, it’s also Cinco de Mayo, which means that as you’re indulging in a platter of tacos or a bowl of creamy, cool guacamole, it’s only fitting to mix up a refreshing cocktail to pair with it. Margaritas often steal the show come Cinco de Mayo — and for good reason, given that they’re endlessly versatile — but there are surely other sippers to celebrate the day. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite adults-only cocktails worthy of Cinco de Mayo below; each is easy to prepare and guaranteed to impress your friends at tonight’s fiesta.

Whether you like it on the rocks or chilled and frosty, the margarita with a base of tequila is a Mexican must-have. Most traditional recipes, including that for the Classic Margaritas featured above from Food Network Magazine, showcase a base of tequila and plenty of fresh lime juice, but the cocktail can be dressed up with other fruit juices or blended to become a frozen concoction. Browse photos of 10 Cinco de Mayo Margaritas to find more inspiration and get the how-tos for making them at home.

While you could indeed drink your margarita, there’s also the option of eating it — in the form of a gelatin shot. Made with just a handful of ingredients, Lime-Shaped Margarita Gelatin Shots are bright-green party bites that use hollowed-out limes as a mold for an extra-special presentation.

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